Friday, December 30, 2005

My Menopause Blog: Guppies

Menopause suddenly appears to becoming fashionable. In the natural world that is.

A week ago we heard about menopausal gorillas. Today it's, guppies.

Fish as pets have never been my thing. I've caught fish, eaten fish and swam with the suckers. This past summer, I even bought a dozen gold fish for my wooden rain barrel, only to watch in horror as they bobbed one by one to the surface, belly up. Other than that, I'm not at one with fish.

So guppies, little minnow sized fish that give birth none stop, eventually out live their reproductive cycle, unless they get eaten first, then technically get thrust into menopause.


A scientist spent time and money working on this. Someone used their education as a biologist to get funding so that he could scoop a baggy of guppies from a stream in Trinidad, do a study, get interviewed about the study and release the findings to the world.

One third of the women of the world are in some stage of menopause and are in various levels of discomfort while some guy studies guppies reproductive lifespan! Sounds fishy to me.

Here's my plan for a better menopause. We write a grant, use the funds for airline tickets and all head to Trinidad for the winter. We could even look up Dr. Guppie and give him something worthwhile to observe.

I feel better just thinking about that.

Sue Richards

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Thursday, December 29, 2005

My Menopause Blog: Hot Flash Meltdown

Image hosted by

Dave Coverly has once again graciously permitted me to post one of his brilliant Speedbump cartoons for all you hot women to enjoy.

This one is particularly funny given the belief that all Canadians live in igloos eh?!

Sue Richards

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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

My Menopause Blog: Gifts

For the next couple of days, I'm focusing on my other blog Calendar Girl. To find out why, you can start reading here then follow the links.

Sue Richards

Saturday, December 24, 2005

My Menopause Blog: Lighten Up

I'm choosing not to celebrate Christmas this year. It's not the first time I've given the pressure cooker event a miss. In fact, I'm on a steady annual restrictive diet of anything xmasy that feels busy, obligatory and doomed to disappoint because the hosts are so hung up on "The Perfect Christmas."

I'm not depressed, angry or forlorn. In fact, I'm cheerful, sleeping well, calm and quite content. It's taken years to extricate myself from the chaos of the season and it takes focused diligence to keep guilt at bay. But man oh man is it worth the effort.

If you're up to your eyeballs in turkey, stockings and sick youngsters, with parcels yet to wrap, cookies to bake and perfection to perfect, this diddy from my current read, Improv Wisdom, may be the gift to help you through.

"The more precise my vision of an outcome, the more likely I am to be disappointed. Things don't turn out as planned. You don't need to abandon your dreams; just don't let them get in the way of what is happening. Observe the currents of life, accept what is happening, including mistakes, and continue working to create the best outcome. The key here is a flexible mind."

Good luck.

Sue Richards

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Friday, December 23, 2005

My Menopause Blog: Cougars

Moving right along through the animal kingdom, I feel compelled to draw attention to the cougar. Not the feline version, the menopausal.

Apparently, according to my highschool aged neighbour I am one. A cougar. Even though, as I have stated numerous times, I'm a dog person.

This was news to me on many levels. Cougars were cats up to that point in my understanding of the world. To compare me with a cat was like saying cheese is like an orange. Maybe sometimes in colour, but that's where it ends.

My nature is pure dog. Think body wag, wanna go for a walk, scratch my ear, gotta cookie, play chase a stick, then drop into a deep sleep curled up on the couch/bed/mat energy. Still, the cougar tutorial did explain a rather unusual experience that had recently occurred. I was sitting in a bar, waiting for my crowd of older farts to arrive for the celebration of something or other, when this young fellow approached, very close and told me he wanted to spend his life with me.

Dumbfounded I asked why?

Apparently, that's not the right comeback. Our encounter pretty much fizzled out right then and there. A real cougar would have pounced.

Even though I don't fit the predatory profile, I do think promoting the menopausal woman as a cougar is a good thing. Much more fun than say painting us with the dried up prune brush.

Sue Richards

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

My Menopause Blog: Gorillas, Vegetarians and a Vegan

AllHeadlineNews reported the following today:

"A study of female gorillas at 17 North American zoos found that, similar to women, they (mature gorillas) undergo menopause."

Even though no other details were offered, my mind instantly started imagining a gorilla having a hot flash or mood swing. Forgetfulness....fur lose....itching....bladder control issues.

King Kong move on Queen Kong!!!

Very loosely related by time and the notion that 'you are what you eat', I offer my own menopausal study.

According to my conversations with one vegan and two vegetarian menopausal women at last evenings Solstice gathering, none had experienced a single hot flash.

Could the omnivore , of which I am one, be hotter than the vegetable filled?

And since gorillas are herbivores, the animal version of vegetarian, will they be blessed with a cool change of life experience?

Sue Richards

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

My Menopause Blog: Improv Menopause

Although I'm a dog person, I live the life of a cat. I have had multiple lives.

During one of my previous lives, maybe in around 1999 - 2001 give or take, involved me doing something quite daring. I studied Improv at Second City in Toronto, then in turn taught what I learned to grade four, five and sixes, from schools throughout my province, Ontario. So taken by the power of what I was learning, I became an improv evangelist. I even started a bi-monthly comedy club in my city, hiring a crew of pros from Second City to put on the show, in an old school gym that I rented and licensed. What glorious, positive fun we had.

Then life took a turn and another life chapter began. I've lost count. Could be nearing nine.

Yesterday, I purchased a book recommended by my yoga instructors husband, a practicing meditator and Buddhist who I admire and trust. The title: Improv Wisdom.

Today, I'm all puffed up.

It's a skinny little book. All the better really, given the premise. "Don't Prepare, Just Show Up".

Image. Just friggin show up. As yourself. You. No one else. And pay attention. Look around. See what you see. Then look again and see what you don't see.

This alone will make you appear unique because everyone else is so busy trying to be something that they're not, that being who you really are will stand out.

How handy. Aging and menopause just got way easier.

Sue Richards

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

My Menopause Blog: Courage My Love

My talented friend Jane used to be in a band called Courage My Love. She's one of those people that puts your jaw on the floor the instant she takes the stage, be it to act, dance, play keyboard or belt out a tune. Courage to be her whole creative self, my good gawd, she's got in spades.

And yet, I know she has stage fright.

I've been called brave in my day. People see confidence in my face and big toothy smile. I remember looking at myself in the mirror one day, a day that I was particularly terrified to face, and there was the look of self assurance. My face was doing it's own thing. My gut another.

The disconnect between how we outwardly appear, and our inner experience is something that can work for us, like in Jane's situation when she steps on the stage. Or it can trip us up.

If you look like you can handle everything, even though some help would... well ... kinda help... chances are that help won't appear. Unless someone has seen beneath the tough surface. Which is hard to do and can be a thankless task. Conversely, if you look like you can't handle the simplest task, others can take over your controls.

Neither is particularly healthy.

Living life is not about being fearless. It about finding courage, my love, to be real. Especially as we age.

Sue Richards

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Monday, December 19, 2005

My Menopause Blog: Hormone Relacement Therapy

So far in this blog, I haven't gone into Hormone Replacement Therapy. I'm not on that path myself. But, HRT is widely used, misunderstood and confusing for many. So here goes.

Lest you think the drug companies are totally altruistic, HRT very huge business with marketing budgets that could feed entire African countries. Much of that marketing is directed at doctors, designed to get them to prescribe the hormone product of that particular company. And considerable advertising effort is dedicated to making you believe menopause is a disease. It's not. So best to clear the smoke, lower the mirrors and take off the rose coloured glasses.

On a practical note HRT is a hormone treatment prescribed by a doctor. The purpose of HRT is to replace naturally declining estrogen and progesterone levels due to the onset of menopause.

HRT comes in one of three different combinations; estrogen taken alone, progesterone taken alone or a combination of estrogen plus progesterone.

HRT may be prescribed as a pill, patch, cream or gel, an implant, an injection or a vaginal ring.

So there's some thinkin' and askin' to be done before you hook yourself up to one of these methods.

When it comes to medication, every woman has the choice to investigate the good, bad and ugly that is always part and parcel of any prescription.

Drugs have side effects. Simple as that.

So, if you're sitting across from your doctor, discussing Hormone Replacement Therapy, be prepared to ask some questions before hopping over to the pharmacy.

  1. What are the side effects of this prescription?
  2. What type of clinical trials did this drug go through?
  3. What is the maximum length of time I should stay on this drug?
  4. What will happen when I go off this treatment?
  5. Is there anything you can recommend that is more natural that will address the same issue?
  6. What does your wife, mother, you use? (Depends on Doctors age and sex)
  7. Do you have any books, websites or groups that you would recommend I read or join?
  8. Is there anything I haven't asked you that I should know?
When I go to my doctor, I treat her as a member of my health team. I know more about my body than she does, given the fact that I experience my body every minute. So the last thing I'm going to do is turn over the reins and blindly follow her advice. She is a guide. One of several that I use.

Doctors are people. Busy people. They only know what they know.

Sue Richards

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Sunday, December 18, 2005

My Menopause Blog: Ten Menopause Tips

There's nothing like a good list. Indeed I've noticed that there's no shortage of list making going on in Bloggingville. Bloggers love lists and seem compelled to list loves, hates, opinions and inane abstract compilations of information as a form of show and tell.

Not to be left out of the fun of making my own Top Ten list, I'm weighing in with a slightly serious, but not heavy selection of menopause points that keep popping up in my research, personal experience and conversation.

Please keep in mind that this is my observation, opinion, translation and no doubt my template for my own menopause adventure.

  1. Menopause is natural.
  2. Menopause is normal.
  3. Menopause can be prematurely induced.
  4. Your attitude about menopause will greatly influence your experience of menopause.
  5. Talking about menopause is helpful.
  6. Laughing about menopause is very helpful.
  7. Being kind and compassionate toward yourself at all times will enhance your life.
  8. Understanding menopausal stages and symptoms will make your life easier.
  9. Being open about menopause will help everyone.
  10. Menopause is not a disease.
Sue Richards

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Friday, December 16, 2005

My Menopause Blog: Menopause Perspectives

To illustrate 'different perspectives', to people who insist on seeing something one way and one way only, I have been known to take an object, lets say a coffee mug, and place it on a surface between us.

Then I say, "Tell me in detail, what you see."

After they have described the pattern, placement of the handle, stains, cracks and chips, I describe what I see. Surprising to most, my description is different. There may be no chip or stain on my side. The handle may be on my left not right like my cross table companion would see and the pattern may not be visible.

Even though we are looking at the same mug, at the same time, we are perceiving that mug differently because of our position. If we literally change our positions, move to each others seats, chances are good that we will share the viewpoint of the other.

Miraculously, one viewpoint does not cancel out the other. Both perspectives exist, despite their differences. In fact, by moving slightly one way or the other, yet another perspective will emerge, and another until dozens of perspectives of a single mug are available.

With a mug, chances are good that the perspectives would be different, but the emotional reaction that my friend and I share would be similar. I doubt if I would feel happier with one way of looking at the mug over another. But if I did feel happier with one perspective of the mug, I would naturally seek that view. I'd be crazy, when pleasure was so close at hand, to deny myself such simple happiness.

What's the point of this wee exercise?

I notice that when I fix my viewpoint on some issue, let's say menopause, for the sake of relevance, and that viewpoint is negative, rigid and energy sucking, then I feel dark, stuck and drained. Thankfully, as my mug experiment suggests, I've learned that there are more perspectives available.

Unlike the mug, menopause comes with a full compliment of emotional reactions ranging from hate to love, resistance to acceptance. So the range of menopause perspectives are further weighted by emotional baggage.

I'm a big fan of pleasant, less stress, calm living. So I'm motivated to seek out just such a perspective. Perhaps something say positive, funny, maybe even a bit saucy, but easy just the same. Why would I, and I mean, I as in Sue Richards, want to cause myself pain by holding a hard boiled belief about menopause that sucked the life out of me when kinder perspectives are available?

Especially when you consider the friggin dozen year time span between peri - post menopause. That's a long time to make myself miserable.

Unless I was so rigidly stuck in a single perspective, so clued out and unaware of my own feelings due to my low level of conscious awareness that I simply didn't know any better.

Sue Richards


Thursday, December 15, 2005

My Menopause Blog: Home for the Holidays

My period showed up last night, quietly, creeping in without detection.

We greeted each other this morning.

Me: Back so soon?

Period: Yawn.

Me: And I see you made laundry.

Sue Richards


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

My Menopause Blog: Give Yourself a Gift

I wrote this editorial for our local daily, The Mercury, last December. It still holds water and may encourage the menopausal amoung you to breath deeply during the panting, can't keep up, supposedly joyous season that seems directly aimed at women.

Hark Ye Harried Shoppers, Rest Ye Weary Gentlefolk

I greatly resent the herding quality of this month. Every Santa-fearing person on the face of the earth is squeezing themselves through the head of a pin neatly labeled Christmas. Starting as early as October and continuing without pause until Boxing Day, the merry script is laid out and our role is clearly defined. We must cheerfully put aside our own lives, find a twinkle for our eye and a blush for our cheek and shop till we drop.

This has never worked for me. Call me Scrooge, but my sense of giving and loving kindness doesn’t correspond with a calendar date or a list of names. Nor does it fit with a time of year where I’m challenged to leave my house after 4p.m., perpetually chilled, constantly nodding off and routinely broke.

Our cultural understanding of giving is narrowly defined. We exchange mountains of useless consumer goods that cost bags of dough in the month of December. This is heartily reinforced by massive campaigns to “BUY ME NOW”, launched by every bauble-making enterprise on our continent in order to shore up lagging fourth-quarter revenues. None of this activity has anything to do with goodwill towards human kind or a babe in swaddling clothes. It’s commercial manipulation, plain and simple.

That said, it does takes two to tango. I can’t help but notice that every person I talk with complain bitterly about the stress and expense of the holiday season. Then, frantically and in bad moods, race to the mall with credit card in hand, all the while blaming society for putting on the pressure.

Well merrily I say unto you ye harried shoppers, I have joyous news to share. You do not have to participate in the lunacy of spending money you don’t have. Nor do you need to find the perfect gift for the unknown relative or people whose name you’ve picked from a jar. As for dashing and prancing from store to mall to outlet in bad weather endangering your life and the lives of those you don’t know, rest ye weary gentlefolk.

Glory be and deck the halls, the bells are ringing and the carolers singing.... “Fa La La La La, You Can Opt Out!”

Hark and Harold Angel do not expect you to lose your mind. Society is you my friend and you have choice. Break the tinsel that ties, completely or little by little until a new pace finds you jingle-bell-jolly all year long. Simply start by saying no. Or even better, no thank you.

Several years ago, I chose the 'slow no' route to Yuletide sanity. A little nip here and a tuck there and voila, Xmas excess eventually disappeared. Now, I barely do anything that resembles Christmas, in December.

Backyard trees get decorated in summer for maximum viewing pleasure during long evenings outdoors. My large papier mache Santa works all year as my front door greeter. From January to March, I host “Monday Night Roast Up” and serve fowl as a matter of course.

My seasonal gift-giving has gone the way of the Dodo too, as I’ve come to prefer sharing non-traditional gifts all year long. Notably, some of the finest gifts I’ve received arrived during the non-festive months, unwrapped, surprising and perfectly suited.

Last spring when my new next-door neighbours chose not to spray their grass with pesticides. Gloriously, a 14-year cycle of chemical lawn treatment came to an end, proving a gift to my health and the environment.

Three-year-old Tessa and Aurora give me reason to leave my home office on the finest summer days when I hear their chirpy little voices dancing through my open window. They remind me that silly is fun and warm sidewalks are nice to sit on. Spontaneous playmates are sweet gifts.

When Tannis sings me a song or Katie invites me on a dog walk I feel gifted. Rob’s enthusiasm for rogue skating on wilderness ponds and Ian’s perfectly barbecued steaks are as delightfully received as given. The fine company and conversation of so many exceptional people warms my heart all year long. Their social generosity reminds me of how lucky I am. The gift of friendship.

Fifteen years ago, Henry gave me four Tulip Trees, grown from seeds he collected in the Carolinas. Now taller than my home and graced with orange and lime green magnolias in spring I’m left breathless. The gift of natural beauty.

An anonymous “fellow Guelph lover” left $600.00 cash in my mailbox last February with a note that simply thanked me for my commitment to beauty, creativity and community. I felt the gift of appreciation, recognition and understanding.

Then, way back in October 2002, Bonnie Ewen, former managing editor of this paper gave me a gift that will last my lifetime. During our first, brief meeting, Bonnie urged me to apply for the community editorial board. With the gift of encouragement, I poised my pen. Now, as I end my two-year stint, I am thrilled with the growth of my writing. May you rest in peace, Bonnie.

And may you all enjoy the gift of your own ability to spread simple acts of kindness throughout the year.

Sue Richards


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

My Menopause Blog: A Seasonal Carol

Sung to the tune of Jingle Bells.

Menopause, menopause
Change of life is here,

Oh what fun, it is to cry,
When my mood swings towards tears.

Menopause, menopause,
Messing with my mind.
I don't remember,
I've lost my list,
But I still know how to rhyme.

Flashing hot as fire,
In my underwear and bra.
Soaking through the sheets,
Beet red all the time.

Coffee is a trigger.
So is spice and booze.
My bodies shape shifts daily,
And my hair is falling loose.

Oh, menopause, menopause,
Change of life hurray,

Oh what joy, to be mature.
And to face this everyday.

Sue Richards


Monday, December 12, 2005

My Menopause Blog: From Mrs. Claus - 2

Dear Ms. Richards,

Perhaps I've over reacted.

In searching through Mr. Claus' files, I have discovered millions of love letters from women all over the world. Billions really. Staggering to contemplate the impact my husband has on the females of the world. I hadn't really considered the implications until just now. And I will add, all thanks to your letter.

I've been blind to my own experience. It's so stressful at this time of year. I'm baking from dawn til dusk, the elves are a handful and Santa insists that I check his lists three and four times to make sure he hasn't forgotten anyone. I'm run off my feet. And as you pointed out, I'm no spring chicken, although I'm pleased to hear that you don't think I'm a day over 55.

Fortunately, I am enjoying a taste of post menopausal zest this year. But the same old, same old routine is sucking the life out of me. You'd think I'd be used to the hustle and bustle of the season, but I do get wound up. And there aren't many women my age or species up here that I can have a good yarn with. I'm feeling a bit house bound and lonely.

So I do apologize for flying into a frosty rage and blaming you for all my frustrations. I do have choices. I'm simply not making them.

As for a menopausal tip, I find a good foot massage does me a world of good. I've trained four of the elves in a combination of Reike and Shiatsu. Their tiny fingers do a wonderful job of releasing tension. I just sit by the fire, with my feet up, sipping a glass of Sherry and let them go to town. Think I'll call the little scamps in right now and start the week off on a better foot. Heh Heh.

Thanks for your letter. I'd be pleased if you'd write again.

Season's Greetings,

Merry Claus


Sunday, December 11, 2005

My Menopause Blog: From Mrs. Santa Claus

To Ms Richards,

Well aren't you the bearer of glad bloody tidings! Ho, Ho, Ho, and jingle bells to you, you, you....menopausal maniac. What gives you the right to upset our happy north pole home with talk of a respectful, vertical relationship with my husband of so many decades I've lost track.

I mean, I know he gets bags of mail from girls claiming to be good and I'm not stupid enough to overlook the fact that he does stay out all night. I smell the milk on his breath in the morning. His beard is caked with cookie crumbs. The man sleeps for a whole week afterwards. He's spent. Wasted. Totally done in.

But, lingerie? A snow mobile? Good grief woman. I get baking sheets from him every year. No wonder he's FAT.

But not anymore. You'll be seeing one skinny Santa next year. No more flour, butter, sugar for Mr. Jolly, ring my bell, hark ye stupid angels, Claus. From this point forward, buddy boy is on a diet! Soon as he shows his twinkling little eyes in the house again. The cowards out sleeping with those stinking animals. Stupid man. Whatever was he thinking?

If your intention is to be a home wrecker, then you're good...very good at fulfilling your goal. But if you have a shred of decency, please show us some kindness and back off!

From: Not so Mrs. Merry Clause.


Saturday, December 10, 2005

My Menopause Blog: Dear Mrs. Santa

Dear Mrs. Santa Claus,

I am remiss. For year's I have been sending love letters to your jolly old husband, spewing all my best attributes and playing down the bad bits, and nary once did I consider the impact my behaviour would have on your feelings.

Please accept my heartfelt apology for being so insensitive to you. And allow me to assure you that there is nothing serious going on between me and your man.

It is true that your main squeeze does buy me gifts every year. Jewelry, lingerie, chocolates, exotic trips and once a brand new Arctic Cat snowmobile. But I swear, I have never, nor will I ever be caught kissing the man of your dreams. We have a respectful, vertical relationship.

I hope I'm not being too forward Merry, (may I call you by your first name ?), but I'd like to ask how your menopause is going? Given your 'brick' shape, thin hair, and obvious age, (really you don't look a day over 55) I'm assuming that you've had more than a few turns on the mood swing and a hot flash or two. I'm sure living at the North Pole helps, but it must be a fine line between overheating and frost bite. Anyway, if you have any tips you'd like to share, please tuck them in the old boys sleigh and have him drop them off on his way by.

And since I'm fessing up to the written correspondence I've sent, under your very nose, to your loving hubby over the last several decades, I am now being more open about our My letter to Mr Ho Ho Ho himself, although under a pseudo name, appears on my other blog.

I appreciate having the opportunity to write you Merry. I know that even though you get little acknowledgement for the magic of Christmas, you play an integral, equal role in the unfolding of the season. Don't be afraid to stand up and be noticed girlfriend. All the little girls of the world need to know you're there.


Sue Richards


Thursday, December 08, 2005

My Menopause Blog: My Other Life

Besides looking for my missing period, musing about my menopause and generally wandering through the day wondering how to keep calm, have fun and find courage, I publish a breast health calendar.

Yes, you read that right...breast. As in boob, tit, bosom, or as I like to refer to mine, the pups.

I do this because I think it will help women take better care of themselves, get over their body hangups and motivate people to focus on PREVENTING BREAST CANCER. Currently the worlds focus is on DETECTING BREAST CANCER and CURING BREAST CANCER.

Call me crazy, but I'd prefer NOT TO GET BREAST CANCER. Ever.

Sorry I'm yelling...well, not really sorry. I'm Canadian. I'm programmed to apologize.

Any way, this project, aptly called Breast of Canada is in it's 5th year of publication. My very hugh contribution of time is voluntary at this point. And pretty much the entire project happens in my home. I have a slew of international customers and do most of my business on line.

I've also been blogging my daily life of being the worlds only fine art photography, breast health calendar publisher. My other handle is Calendar Girl. Titillating really. High, revealing adventure.

Allow me to be Frank. I'm sitting here with 650 calendar remaining from my 3000 unit print run. There are 24 days left in this calendar year before calendar sales tank. I'm looking for a bit of viral help in pushing these pups out the door. Not my pups. I'm planning on keeping them. But the other gals pups...70 models in the 2006 edition need homes to hang out in.

Get to the point Sue.

Please help if you can. I've posted three easy online ways on my Calendar Girl Blog today and how I will reciprocate.

My gratitude will pour forth in big, gooey, non fattening gobs.

Sue Richards


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

My Menopause Blog: Moody Blog

They say that if you hang out with someone or something long enough, you start to look like them and act similar to them. I'm wondering if such voodoo can apply to a blog.

Over the last week, this blog has been behaving 'differently'. Some days, I get nothing but the dotted background. Other times, a curt message simply saying I'm not allowed access. ( The first time this happened, I clutched my heart and said 'ouch' out loud. I'm obviously becoming dangerously attached to this process.)

Then sometimes I'm told my cookies are gone.

Cookies are gone? Marbles for sure. But cookies....

When I compare my blogs behaviour to my menopause, or worse, my surly, come and go as it bloody well pleases period, I'm left wondering if some x factor, mind bending, spooky thing has embedded itself into me or my blogger template.

Regardless, I apologize on behalf of my blog for any mood swing behaviour that you find yourself faced with. Switch browsers....that all I can recommend. It's likely just a phase of my menopause.

Sue Richards


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

My Menopause Blog: The Blame Game

One of my wise friends is able to succinctly sum up just about every negative situation I find myself in with a simple reflective statement.

"The shit you see in others is the same shit you carry within yourself."

There's something insidious about our own shit. But there's also something quite liberating about identifying it.

It's really easy to blame what I don't like about myself on menopause. It's also lame and useless. Much better if I change my attitude and accept menopause for what it is.

In fact, blaming in general is useless really. It doesn't matter if menopause gets the bad rap or if it's the kids, the man, the lover, the boss, the mailperson...the outcome is the same. Negative not positive.

I've noticed as the year's tick by, I prefer to live with less tension in my life. I started asking myself this question. Do I want to live above the line or below?


Shifting my energy above the line will instantly improve every relationship I have for the better.

Mirror mirror on the wall.

Sue Richards


Monday, December 05, 2005

My Menopause Blog: My Mason, His Menopause

My mason Josh was working on my ceramic tile hearth pad for my new woodstove. I made some comment about my hair falling out and it being part of the mystery of menopause.

Josh rubbed the top of his balding temples and claimed, " Must be what's happening to me too."

Sue Richards


Sunday, December 04, 2005

My Menopause Blog: Pre-Menopause

Image hosted by

Five baby girls eventually emerged from these three bellies. This photo was featured as the June photo in the 2003 edition of The Breast of Canada calendar that I independently publish, out of my home.

The process of pregnancy is as natural as the process of menopause.

Photo Credit: Melanie Gillis

Sue Richards


Friday, December 02, 2005

My Menopause Blog: Pole Dancing

Christmas eve, 1997 got captured in the most brilliant of polaroids. There's me, my man, 2 Thai strippers and a transvestite with a Santa hat on. The backdrop, a bar in Bangkok red light district.

I'm looking white, plain and whipped from a 40 hour travel marathon. My man is laughing his head off.

It was a quite night in the bar, what with every good girl and boy tucked in bed waiting for the jolly, fat guy to show. Contrary to popular tradition, we had opted out of sugar plums dancing in our dreams and had intentionally headed to a country free of Christmas. Sure, cotton balls, did hang from a few palm trees and Santa hats crowned heads of various sex workers, but ho, ho, ho was no, no, no where to be heard.

The strippers, clearly disinterested in everything in sight, grabbed the pole mounted on the stage and did a few moves. Then they sat down with us and chatted in that broken English way that I love. Did we have children? Where were we from? How cold was it in Canada?

I asked them if they liked dancing but our wires got crossed and instead they heard that I wanted to try dancing. Excited they tried their best to urge me to the stage.

Way back in the depths of the 80's I found myself backstage at a Supertramp, Chris deBurge concert in Struttgart Germany. My man of the moment was in Chris's band. As the all day, outdoor, 100,000 attendee, music event unfolded, the stage manager approached me holding a hanger with some scarlet coloured, glittery shreds of material draped over it. Apparently, the stripper who performed live to Chris's tune 'Patricia The Stripper' had not arrived in time. They needed a substitute and I fit the mould.

Pole Dancing was featured on the front page of our local newspaper a couple of weeks ago. Apparently, it's all the rage and is no longer considered too sexy or dirty for the average gal.
Women are erecting poles in their homes, say no more, and dancing their way to health and better sex lives.

Ten and 20 years ago, my self confidence was no where near today's level. So what I'm about to recommend, as a menopause remedy for moodiness, hot flashes, and lack of interest, comes out of this new territory within myself.

Why not give the pole dancing a swing. At the very least, you'll build up your arms. Beyond that, Bangkok beckons.

Sue Richards


Thursday, December 01, 2005

My Menopause Blog: Sleepless in Guelph

I'm having a flash back thanks to Tina, a reader who commented about her sleeplessness.

My menopause blog does not start at the beginning of my menopause. I think, although I can't be absolutely sure, I was entering the staging area of peri-menopause at lease 18 months before I started this process of writing.

My periods were fading but still monthly so I wasn't really paying full attention to the implications. I was grieving a couple of significant losses and struggling to make a living so life was in a bit of a jumble. But I do remember the relentless, day after day, sleepless nights.

After I stopped thrashing about, kicking sheets, swearing, crying and generally having a fit because of my 'over tired' everything, I changed my approach. I'd assumed, it was my god given right to enjoy 8 hours of sleep every night.

Obviously, this was no longer true, cause in reality, it sure as hell wasn't happening.

This observation simply came to me, in an instant. Although I'd slept before, I wasn't sleeping now. No amount of bullying myself was going to change that. For reasons that were invisible to me, my nights were no longer for sawing logs.

My new understanding of the reality I was living, rather than the past I craved helped immensely.

Not to sleep any better or more. But at least to feel less crazed about not sleeping.

At night, I did other things that were soothing for myself. I left my yoga mat out in my spare room floor and would do gentle poses.I bathed with the moon or starlight shining through my bathroom sky light. I hauled a sleeping bag out to my hammock and rocked the night away. Sometimes I intentionally focused on my breathing, trying to make each inhalation reach the bottom of my lungs and allowing each exhalations to clear all the old air out.

I took Rescue Remedy during the day if I felt like I was going to melt down. I tried Valerian, a homeopathic remedy, but not consistently enough to get a good picture. I drank Sleepy Time Tea at bedtime. And if, at any point in the day, opportunity permitted and sleep beckoned, I grabbed a nap like a alcoholic grabs a drink.

In short order, I noticed that when the birds signaled dawn, I was awake but calm. Much better than the stark raving mad woman that would desperately greet the day, agitated, angry and weepy.

When a solid sleep would grace my slumber, you would have thought that I had won a lottery. My neighbour's rejoiced. The post office clerk applauded. Friends cheered me one.

Eventually, after 3 or 4 months, my sleepless in Guelph phase passed. Only later did I learn the association with peri-menopause.

It's been a while since my slumber has been anything but stunning down time. Sleep and I are best buds again.

Sue Richards